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Eyeing the Eisners: a look at the 2014 nominees

The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman

One of my favorite times of the year is here: the announcement of the nominees for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. I love poring over each category to look for surprises, seeing books I never heard of or never got a chance to read. I guess when you get right down to it, I love getting to celebrate awesome comics.

It seems that with each year, the Eisners get better at reflecting the comics art form and industry at that moment. The judges not only hit the fan favorites and critical darlings, but also unexpected choices and hidden gems that truly benefit from this kind of recognition. It’s where quality instead of sales rule, as it should be for an award recognizing the very best of the industry.

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‘Frozen’s’ ending just needed a few more mutants

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With a $1.1 billion global box office and a certified-platinum soundtrack, Disney‘s Frozen is more that a blockbuster — it’s a pop-culture phenomenon. However, the folks at How It Should Have Ended found the animated film lacked a certain … something. Namely, an appearance by X-Men.

After all, where better than Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters for Elsa to learn more about her powers — and, of course, organize the joint faculty-student chorus?

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Sundance’s ‘The Writers’ Room’ to trace path from comics to TV

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Jim Rash, Robert Kirkman and Blair Butler on “The Writer’s Room.”

Comic books have become prime source material for movies, television series and video games, and while the adaptations may vary in terms of scale and medium, one of the keys to their success remains the same: staying true to the core elements that made the comics work in the first place. And in TV, it’s up to the writers — either the original authors or faithful adapters — to help keep it on course.

On April 25, SundanceTV’s The Writers’ Room will explore the well-tread road between comic books and television. Host Jim Rash (screenwriter of The Descendants), the show will put The Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman and Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar in the hot seat to discuss successfully adapting comics for television. They’ll be joined by industry commentators Blair Butler (formerly of G4TV) and Michael Schneider (TV Guide Magazine).

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French comics sensation Bengal takes aim at U.S. with ‘Naja’

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French artist Bengal is one of those artists whom others go out of their way to find his work. While one of his few U.S. credits is a story in the first Flight anthology from 2004, overseas he’s an established name. Revered for Meka, Luminae and contributions to French anthologies, his work has been available to American audiences by import only — or  by viewing online. But in June, an upstart publisher is bringing Bengal’s work to the United States.

Magnetic Press will release Naja, a 248-page collection of the 2008 series by Bengal and writer JD Morvan, originally published in Europe by Dargaud. Naja follows an assassin immune to pain and emotion who finds herself looking for more when her bosses mark her as their next target.

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Image celebrates Eisner nominations with digital sale

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This year’s Eisner Awards nominations were dominated by two publishers, Fantagraphics and Image Comics, with the former earning 18 and the latter 17 (plus three shared). To celebrate the occasion, Image is holding a 50 percent-off sale on digital editions of all 10 nominated titles, for a limited time. That means you’re getting single issues for just 99 cents each.

Whether you’ve fallen behind on some of the series or want to see what all the hubbub is about, now is pretty good time to check out East of West, Lazarus, The Manhattan Projects, Nowhere Men, Outlaw Territory, Pretty Deadly, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals and Zero.

The sale, which extends across the Image Comics storefront, comiXology, Google Play, Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks, ends April 21 at midnight ET.

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ arena show gets a comic prequel

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Marvel Universe Live!, the upcoming multimillion-dollar arena tour show from Marvel and Feld Entertainment, is getting its own comic-book prequel. You have to buy tickets for the production to snag one, though.

The limited-edition one-shot, by Frank Tieri, Miguel Sepulveda and Jay David Ramos, with a cover by Mike McKone, is available for free to those in the continental United States who order tickets to the show between today and June 1.

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‘Justice League United’ #1 scores a ‘Canada’ variant

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DC Comics’ upcoming relaunch of Justice League of America was announced in August as Justice League Canada before it was changed in January to Justice League United. But with the arrival next month of Issue 1, the name will revert once more to Justice League Canada — if only on one cover.

Confused? Don’t be. As the Toronto Star reported over the weekend, the publisher will release a Canadian variant for the debut issue, featuring a recolored version of Mike McKone’s cover emblazoned with “Justice League Canada” (complete with maple leaf emblem). It will be available to all retailers.

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Comics A.M. | Rare copy of ‘The Beano’ #1 goes up for auction

The Beano #1

The Beano #1

Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]

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Lil’ Logan is the most annoying pre-schooler in adorable fan art

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Inspired by Skottie Young’s popular baby variant covers, artist Luigi Monaldi created the adorable “Indestructibles” — featuring pint-sized versions of the Invisible Woman, Incredible Hulk and Wolverine — for a “baby comics” contest on treddi.com. The details are pretty amazing (click on the image below to super-size it), from the Reed Richards doll in Lil’ Sue’s hand to the splintering floor beneath Hulk’s fist to the claw marks on the chalkboard.

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Jock is selling Batman screen prints, but only for a limited time

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Attention fans of Jock and Batman: On Wednesday the artist will debut a gorgeous screen print based on one of his splash pages from Batman: The Black Mirror, available for purchase from his website for just 48 hours.

The 24-inch by 36-inch screen print comes in two versions: black and white ($50), and purple ($65). The same panel was the basis for a statue in DC Collectibles’ Batman Black and White series.

Follow Jock on Twitter to find out when on Wednesday the prints go on sale.

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Quote of the Day | Comics industry’s ‘frozen adolescence’

“No idea has proven more damaging to the comics industry than the myth that its professionals — not just creators, but retailers, even distributors — work for love and not money. It’s a philosophy that has justified exploitation of creators and theft of intellectual property. It’s allowed the entire industry to pass the buck for its failures — from publishers to retailers, and retailers to — for decades. And it’s why the comics industry lingers in a frozen adolescence, clinging to a shrinking target audience like a sea captain railing at the storm — when the real problem is the rotting wood of his own hull.”

Rachel Edidin, former Dark Horse editor turned freelance writer and editor, addressing reactions to Amazon’s announced purchase of comiXology for Wired.com

Blue Beetle flies into battle in ‘Infinite Crisis’

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WB Games has added yet another champion to the roster of Infinite Crisis, Turbine’s free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game: Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle.

Beginning April 30, Beta testers will be able to play as the fan-favorite character, who in the game world wandered into a dispute between warring superhuman gang and stumbled upon the object they were fighting over: a blue scarab. It, of course, bonded to Jaime, covering his body with battle armor, allowing him to flee to safety. After his escape he learned that while the armor wasn’t permanent, his bond with the scarab is. Check out the Blue Beetle trailer and screenshots below.

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Jeffy gets existential in ‘Family Circus’/'True Detective’ mashup

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For two months this winter many of us were swept up in HBO’s True Detective and the serpentine search by detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart not only for a serial killer but also for the meaning of life and the nature of good and evil. And while not everyone was satisfied with the ending, most of us remain enthralled with the writing of Nic Pizzolatto and the existential nihilism of Matthew McConaughey’s character.

And now we can experience both again, in a decidedly different form, with Time Is A Flat Circus, which combines dialogue from the crime drama with panels from the long-running comic The Family Circus. It’s as terrific as you imagine.

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Viz Media to roll out ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ movie tie-ins

AYNIK-GraphicNovel-CoverWith Tom Cruise poised to battle aliens (again and again and again) in Edge of Tomorrow, Viz Media has announced the May 5 release of the graphic novel adaptation of the book that inspired the sci-fi action film.

Written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by alt-manga artist Yoshitoshi ABe, All You Need Is Kill is a 2004 light novel about a new recruit to the United Defense Force who’s killed in his first fight against Earth’s mysterious invaders — only to find himself caught in a time loop: He wakes up the day before that fateful battle, only to die and be resurrected time and again.

Adapted by sci-fi author Nick Mamatas and comic artist Lee Ferguson (Green Arrow, Miranda Mercury), the graphic novel will be available in print for $14.99 or digitally across multiple platforms for $8.99.

On April 29, Viz will also release a new movie tie-in edition of Sakurazaka’s light novel, which in 2009 launched the publisher’s Haikasoru imprint, with a new title (Edge of Tomorrow) and a covering bearing the poster of stars Cruise and Emily Blunt. It’s priced at $7.99.

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Comics A.M. | What Amazon-comiXology deal means (and what it doesn’t)

Amazon buys comiXology

Amazon buys comiXology

Digital comics | In today’s Amazon-acquires-comiXology article, Rachel Edidin deflates much of the hype, and the panic, surrounding the deal, pointing out that comics distribution is already a monopoly, large corporations already run the comics market, and comics have been available on Kindle all along: “Is the concern [...] a distribution monopoly? If so, the direct market is in no position to criticize: over the last 15 years, Diamond Comics Distributors has consumed almost all independent print distribution in comics, and dictates practices and policy to retailers and publishers alike. The idea that print comics are somehow more independent than their digital cousins — or a scrappy underdog fighting the good fight against evil corporate profiteers — is frankly ridiculous.” [Wired]

Awards | Michael Cavna talks with Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer about winning the Pulitzer Prize in cartooning. [Comic Riffs]

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